E3 2019: Ubisoft's show wasn't flashy, but the French firm is making the most of its strong heritage

E3 2019: Ubisoft's show wasn't flashy, but the French firm is making the most of its strong heritage

For years now, Ubisoft has stood out in the triple-A space.

Where it's been perceived that its rivals have trying to make as much money from trends as they pass by - and while Yves Guillemot's company has certainly done that, too - the French publisher has always been famous for giving its developers a huge deal of creative control.

We've seen that pay off with weird and wonderful games, but it's now starting to feel like Ubisoft is seeing the fruits of its labours. The long-rumoured subscription service from the French publisher has finally been officially announced. UPlay+ is available to PC players - and Stadia users as of February 2020 - lets consumers access a library of over 100 games for a $14.99 monthly fee. There's a wide variety of content in there, too, from The Division 2 and Rainbow Six: Siege to beloved cult classic, Beyond Good and Evil.

That's not the only way it's, ugh, 'leveraging' its IP. Ubisoft has long-harboured the transmedia dream - having its properties appear on the silver screen. Now that's happening, with The Division being made into a film in a collaboration with Netflix, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain in the lead roles. There's also Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet, a new TV series being made in collaboration with Ubisoft by It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Rob McElhenney about the team and egos behind the world's biggest MMO. That's coming to Apple TV and seeing it on-stage at E3 is surely a vote of confidence from Ubisoft.

We also had our first official look at Watch Dogs Legion. The long-rumoured entry in the hack-em-up leaked via Amazon UK before the show it opened, but what an opening it was. This is the first time that Watch Dogs hasn't had Ubisoft Montreal as its lead developer, with the French firm's Toronto studio and Far Cry 2 vet Clint Hocking taking the lead. The ambition on display in this game is somewhat mad, with users able to play as, well, anyone in Legion's world. Where before the focus was on hacking, now it seems to be about finding people with specific skills and adopting them into your organisation. It's neat, ambitious, and if it the team pulls it off, it'll be something people write about for years.

Speaking of leaked games, Ubisoft also showed off Roller Champions, its take on the Rocket League 'colourful multiplayer' formula with a flashy trailer. The firm is clearly confident in this title as there's an alpha test up right now for PC players to check out - which is a nice touch.

The other new IP on display was Gods and Monsters. There wasn't much to go on for this game, save for it's coming out in on February 25th, 2020 and you play as someone tasked with killing monsters. It's colourful and looks pretty interesting - hopefully, we'll see more of that soon.

The other new idea - well, one relevant to our sexy PC audience - was Rainbow Six Quarantine, a new entry in the franchise that promises to do for PvE what Siege did for PvP. This is a three-player co-op tactical shooter that, if it lives up to half of the dev team's hype, will be a blast to play.

So you see, it doesn't matter that Ubisoft wasn't pulling new IPs and big announcements out of its derriere for its E3 conference. What we have is a company at the top of its game, experimenting with older franchises, introducing new ones and trying to make the most of its impressive back catalogue.

Here's to you, Mr Guillemot. The industry is better for having Ubisoft around.

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.